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Solar Plane Completes Overnight Flight

A Swiss research group landed their solar powered aircraft successfully after completing an overnight flight Thursday. The plane was able to fly at night as it was able to store energy it was able to gather during the day.

The Solar Impulse, a four-engine plane, took off from Switzerland’s Payerne airbase early Wednesday and returned at dawn Thursday.

“It was unbelievable, success better than we expected,” the plane’s pilot, Andre Borschberg, a Swiss air force veteran, told Reuters television. “We almost thought to make it longer, but we demonstrated what we wanted to demonstrate so they made me come back,” he said.

“This is a highly symbolic moment,” said Bertrand Piccard, initiator and president of Solar Impulse, in a statement.

“I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career,” Borschberg said. “Just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise, thanks to the sun.”

He added that he had flown the entire trip without using any fuel or causing pollution, flying the aircraft to an altitude of 8,654 meters while achieving a top ground speed of 68 knots.

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The Gyre Seascraper

Created for the Evolo Skyscraper Design Competition, the Gyre Seascraper is a floating zero emissions eco-development from Zigloo Design, a Canadian based company. Only at the conception stages this underwater skyscraper was created to bring both scientists and tourists together to better understand the ocean.

The multi-level design spanning 52.3 acres, uses wind, solar, and tidal energy generation technologies all while providing adequate space for living and working, shops, restaurants, gardens, and recreation activities. Cool, sounds like its right out of an amazing Sci-Fi movie!

With radial arm that extend out from the central area for stabilization this also creates a 1.25km long port which makes it perfect for accommodating the worlds largest ships.

The centre column of the Gyre Seascraper features multiple floor levels within a double-hulled vortex with glass windows. The top two levels are dedicated to restaurants, shopping and community activities while the intermediate levels are designed to accommodate long-term residents, ocean experts, and hotel guests, with room for more than 2000 people. The lowest levels are dedicated to oceanographic research and also will feature space for a public interpretive centre.

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Solar Power Roads

The global engineering company Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr (IAV) has a plan to get crafty with our roadways. This company is working on a way to refuel electric cars while they are both driving and parked via road embedded solar panels and piezoelectric generators.

In execution, the transfer of energy from the solar track to the vehicle would be without cables or connectors, taking advantage of electric flowing currents. The ultimate goal towards this futuristic road way is to allow vehicles to both move or charge, regardless of weather conditions and free of mechanical wear.

The team at IAV is confident this technology will launch in the next two years and they are currently in planning stages, on the way to a full-scale test track.

Read more about IAV and what they are working on here.

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Keep Warm with Solar Powered Hat and Gloves

Burr. It’s getting chilly out there, but thanks to the German designer Yiran Qian’s dream of an “Endless Warm: you will never have to have frozen fingers again. Yiran conceptualized the integration of solar panels into winter hats and gloves for Design Boom’s Green Life Design Competition. And even though this is still just in the idea phase this concept is a neat idea that hopefully in the future will help melt away our winter blues.

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Solar Eclipse July 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 will be a memorable day for those who live in Asia – as they’ll witness the longest solar eclipse in the 21st century, lasting for six minutes and 39 seconds. The eclipse will reach this six-minute maximum duration point over the Pacific Ocean.

The eclipse will be visible in and around central India and in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. This will be the most watched eclipse – as it will be right over the most densly populated area in the world. But hey, if you’re not in the area of the eclipse then you can always watch it online here.

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Saharan Desertec Project to Bring Energy to Europe

In what could be the most ambitious renewable-energy projects to be launched, twelve of Europe’s largest blue chip firms have signed an agreement to build a $555 billion solar thermal project in the Sahara desert.

In a bid to pump clean power, the project named “Desertec” has outlined plans that will scatter for hundreds of thermal plants across the North African desert and massive underwater high-voltage cables to meet up to 15% of Europe’s energy needs by 2050.

In the agreement, the companies say the Desertec project represents “a scientifically substantiated and economically feasible way ” of achieving secure and sustainable energy supplies.

As plans for the project passed in Munich on Monday, a few German commentators drew the comparison of harnessing solar power from the Sahara Desert to the U.S. space project in the 1960s which strived to put a man on the moon.

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China Institutes Green Power Plan to Match Europe

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-chairman of China’s national development and reform commission said that Beijing would easily surpass Europe’s current 2020 targets for the use of wind and solar power hoping to now reach targets three times higher. This is a part of China’s ambitious plans to increase in its use of wind and solar power over the next ­decade and believes it can match Europe by 2020.

Zhang said the new goal could be 100GW by 2020, though in the current plan, the goal for wind energy is 30 gigawatts..

“Similarly, by 2020 the total installed capacity for solar power will be at least three times that of the original target [3GW],” Zhang said in an interview in London.

“We are now formulating a plan for development of renewable energy. We can be sure we will exceed the 15% target. We will at least reach 18%. Personally I think we could reach the target of having renewables provide 20% of total energy consumption.”

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Renewed Interest in Renewable Energy

The Obama economic stimulus package, which invested so heavily in renewable energy like wind and solar power, is finally having an effect on the green industries.

In a statement to the NY Times the vice-president of Sharp Solar, Ron Kenedi, said that although December, January and February had been “miserable,” things are starting to pick up.

“I call this the green shoots period. We’re seeing new growth,” he said.

Kenedi went to allude to a large-scale, unnamed solar project, which lost its financing late last year. Now, with banks willing to invest “they’ve unstuck their project.”

He also made mention of the stimulus money that will soon be flowing to state governments via conservation-oriented block grants. This should show a marked influence on small-scale solar projects.

However, he added, the industry is still looking for clarity on how a new Treasury grant program (an important stimulus measure for renewable energy that turns tax credits into straight grants) will work. “We are also noting that the financing of projects already slated to go forward is taking extra time to get done,” he said.

Lawyer with Chadbourne & Parke, Keith Martin, stated in an email that a recent call he had conducted with bankers indicated a consensus that the stimulus package is resulting in more activity, if not yet money, in the renewable energy sector.

“There are lots of proposal letters and term sheets circulating,” he said in an e-mail message. “The mood is improving, but it has not translated yet into closing and fresh capital flowing into deals.”

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Practical Solar Home-Heating Mirrors

I love simple solutions and nothing seems simpler than Practical Solar’s Home Heating- Mirrors. The concept is so basic it makes me wonder why this is relatively new solar technology for homes.

Like the massive desert solar farms that use hundreds of mirrors to reflect light at a central pipe with liquid in it, home-heating mirrors simply reflect the sun’s light at your home to heat it.

All it takes is two such mirrors pointed at your home, ideally at a window, to generate as much warmth as a space heater.

Of course these mirrors would only be useful to in sunny yet cold climates but there are plenty of people who fit that bill. Speaking of bills, it’s a great way to keep those expensive summer bills down while also providing plenty of natural light. Who needs to flick the light switch when you’ve got concentrated solar energy illuminating your room?

What do you think, does Practical Solar have a good idea here? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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‘The Age of Stupid’ First Solar-Powered Film Premiere

The Age of Stupid premiered on March 15 in London. The film is a drama documentary set in 2055 depicts a world that has been ravaged by climate change and the inability to react on the part of humans. The Age of Stupid explores the critical threshhold we’re at in history – when, we were aware that we were destroying the planet, but did little to stop it. This is the central theme of “The Age of Stupid,” a pioneering climate change documentary that aims to turn every viewer into climate change activists. The film stars British actor, Pete Postlethwaite, whose character watches “archive footage” from 2008 and asks why action against global warming was not taken when there was still a chance.

For the premiere, filmmakers went all out to create a green environment. The event was held in a special tent and was dubbed “the world’s first solar-powered film premiere.”

Attendees including Vivienne Westwood and Gillian Anderson were asked not to fly in to attend, but to arrive by foot, public transportation or bike. Postlethwaite, the film’s star, also arrived via bicycle.

Check out the Age of Stupid trailer. The film will premiere in the U.S. in May.

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